By NITZ ARANCON
with LITO RULONA
MAYOR Oscar Moreno yesterday announced plans to create a “Homeland Security Department” under city hall that would integrate and coordinate efforts aimed at thwarting security threats here.
Moreno made the announcement during a news conference yesterday right after an emergency meeting of top security officials in the city in response to Friday night’s bomb attack in Davao City.
He said Cagayan de Oro, just like other cities and provinces in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country, is faced with the threat of terrorism.
He said there was a need for authorities to closely coordinate and collaborate in order to ensure public safety and security.
Moreno said the plan to create the Homeland Security Department was discussed during yesterday’s emergency meeting.
If plans don’t miscarry, the planned department would harmonize the operations of the police, military, Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), among others.
He said he earlier discussed the plan with Councilor Romeo Calizo, chairman of the city council’s police, fire and public safety, and the idea was raised again during yesterday’s meeting with security officials in the city.
Moreno also said he has asked Camp Evangelista to field more soldiers to help the police in the city in its security operations.
He said citizens can expect to see more soldiers in the streets.
Moreno said residents should not see this as “militarization” but as a reinforcement of security forces in the city. “Hibalo kana nga na-a dayoy mo-inon nga gi-militarize ang Cagayan de Oro.”
Moreno and Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano earlier issued separate statements to condemn the bombing in Davao.
Emano, for his part, ordered the implementation of strict security measures around the capitol that include frisking and searching the belongings of people, including provincial government workers, entering the capitol.
The capitol, according to Emano, would be very strict. “No baggage is allowed inside provincial capitol. Wala na’y ibilin-bilin.”
He also asked the Misamis Oriental Provincial Police Office to beef up the capitol’s security force.
Emano appealed to citizens to understand and cooperate with authorities.
“We need everyone’s cooperation on this. Kinahanglan nga kitang tanan magbinantayon sa tanang panahon,” he said.
City police director Senior Supt. Ronnie Francis Cariaga said checkpoints would be manned 24 hours a day at Kinasanghan in Barangay Iponan, Bugo, Puerto and Lumbia.
There would also be mobile checkpoints especially during peak hours and late hours of the day around the city, Cariaga said.
Officers, he said, would ask drivers to fully open their windows to allow a visual check of the vehicles.
Cariaga said the police were also coordinating with hotel and resort owners so that they would keep full security camera recordings and ask their guests to follow security rules in lobbies like removing their caps and sunglasses.
He said hotel guests would be required to fill out forms “para ma-identify gyud kinsa ang nag-check in.”
Col. Jessie Angeles, “caretaker” of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the military and the police have been coordinating with each other in an effort to avoid an attack similar to Davao’s from taking place in the city and northern Mindanao.
But Angeles said authorities would need citizens to be vigilant and to provide the government with useful information.
“We assure everyone that we are ready for any eventuality, and are prepared to undertake tasks with regard to the declaration of the state of lawless violence by our Commander-in-Chief,” Alvarez said.
On Saturday, President Duterte declared the country under a state of lawless violence following the bomb attack in his home city.
“We call for sobriety and for the people to stay calm, and refrain from any speculations so as not aggravate the situation,” Alvarez said.